Wallabies axe Robinson and Phipps

Fri, 09 Aug 2013 07:07
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Veteran prop Benn Robinson and scrumhalf Nick Phipps were among the 10 players cut from the Wallabies squad.

Veteran prop Benn Robinson and scrumhalf Nick Phipps were among the 10 players cut from the Wallabies squad.

New coach Ewen McKenzie narrowed his selection pool for the opening Rugby Championship Test against New Zealand on August 17 - an encounter which doubles as a Bledisloe Cup contest.

McKenzie, who replaced Robbie Deans as head coach after Australia's 1-2 series loss to the British and Irish Lions last month, included eight uncapped players in the 30-man squad announced Friday.

He still needs to trim that down to 22 for the Test in Sydney.

Robinson, who started against the Lions, wasn't among the four props retained in the squad preparing to take on the All Blacks.

Queensland Reds playmaker Quade Cooper was retained, as expected, along with uncapped flyhalves Matt Toomua and Bernard Foley.

Brumbies No.9 Nic White was preferred to Phipps as backup for scrumhalf Will Genia.

The squad was narrowed down following a five-day training camp in Sydney, with McKenzie and his team to now intensify their preparations ahead of the Wallabies' opening Test match of the four-nation Rugby Championship series that also features South Africa and Argentina.

The inclusion of eight uncapped representatives ensures there will be a new look Wallabies line-up to face the All Blacks next weekend, where they will begin their pursuit of winning the Bledisloe Cup for the first time since 2002.

Among the potential debutants are flyhalves Matt Toomua and Bernard Foley, back row forwards Scott Fardy and Jake Schatz, prop Scott Sio, hooker Albert Anae, centre Tevita Kuridrani and scrumhalf Nic White.

"I was really impressed with how each individual responded to the competitiveness of the opening week of camp and I'm pleased to say that the player's attitude and uptake of our program was at a very high level," McKenzie said.

"It's unfortunate that a number of good players missed out although this isn't necessarily a case of poor performance but rather a reflection of some of the quality we have coming through in Australia right now.

"For the moment though, we've narrowed our way down to a group of players we believe are capable of getting the job done against the All Blacks in just over a week.

"That doesn't mean the players chosen won't change in the future and that those who have missed out this time will be forgotten."

The 30-man squad, which will be captained by veteran lock James Horwill, boasts a combined total of 575 Test appearances and includes players from all five Super Rugby provinces - ACT Brumbies (11), Queensland Reds (nine), NSW Waratahs (six), Western Force (three) and the Melbourne Rebels (one).

It also has an average age of just under 25-years-old with hooker Stephen Moore the only representative 30 years or above.

Now that the squad has been finalised, McKenzie said it would be important to get on with the business of beating the All Blacks.

"There has understandably been a large amount of content to get through on the field but we've also been focusing on the mental side and ensuring we have the right mindset going into the game," he said.

"The reality is not one player in the current squad has lifted up the Bledisloe Cup before, but if they are good enough over seven days and two matches then this will change.

"That's an exciting challenge and one the group must get their minds around quickly if we are going to be successful."

Australian squad: Albert Anae, Ben Alexander, Adam Ashley-Cooper, Quade Cooper, Nick Cummins, Kane Douglas, Saia Fainga'a, Scott Fardy, Israel Folau, Bernard Foley, Will Genia, Liam Gill, Michael Hooper, James Horwill, Sekope Kepu, Tevita Kuridrani, Christian Leali'ifano, Ben McCalman, Hugh McMeniman, Jesse Mogg, Stephen Moore, Ben Mowen, James O'Connor, Jake Schatz, Rob Simmons, Scott Sio, James Slipper, Joe Tomane, Matt Toomua, Nic White.

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