Eight rookies in Wallabies squad

Tue, 30 May 2017 09:12
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SQUAD ANNOUNCEMENT: Wallabies coach Michael Cheika has named eight uncapped players in his 34-man squad for the upcoming Test Rugby Series against Fiji, Scotland and Italy, kicking-off on June 10. 

Young forwards Lukhan Tui, Richard Hardwick and Ned Hanigan have earned selection in their first Wallabies squad after a series of impressive performances in Super Rugby.

Backs Joe Powell, Eto Nabuli and Karmichael Hunt will get their second taste in camp after featuring in the June squad last year, while Marika Koroibete has been named after experiencing his first taste in Wallabies camp on the 2016 end-of-year tour.

Jack Dempsey, a development player on last year's Northern Hemisphere tour, has earned selection in the main squad after returning from an ankle injury last weekend for Gordon in Sydney's Shute Shield.

Queensland forward Scott Higginbotham also re-joins the Wallabies fold for the first time in almost two years, after returning to the Reds this season following a stint in the Japanese Top League.

Will Genia is the only overseas-based player named in the squad and will join the Wallabies in Melbourne after fulfilling his duties with French club Stade Francais. 

"Last year we made a few changes for a certain reason, around bringing in a newer generation and looking at the longer term," said Cheika. "We're not going to give any Test caps away."

"Out of the 13 debutants last year, there's 11 of them in this squad and add to that a bunch of new guys with a lot of potential," Cheika said.

The young squad has an average age of 26 years and average Test experience of 24 caps.

"It's a strategy we want to pursue. Making the odd 'out there' selection that isn't expected like Joe Powell last year, but it's planting the seed. No one is asking about Joe Powell this year as they know he's made the step up to be in Wallabies contention," Cheika said.

"Our young players are putting form on the board and some of our experienced players are showing they really want to be a part of the squad," Cheika said.

The squad will convene in Melbourne on Sunday, June 4, following this weekend's round of Super Rugby. 

Wallabies squad:

Forwards: Allan Alaalatoa, Rory Arnold, Adam Coleman, Sam Carter, Jack Dempsey, Ned Hanigan, Richard Hardwick, Scott Higginbotham, Michael Hooper, Sekope Kepu, Tolu Latu, Stephen Moore (captain), Tatafu Polota-Nau, Tom Robertson, Scott Sio, Toby Smith, Lopeti Timani, Lukhan Tui.

Backs: Quade Cooper, Israel Folau, Bernard Foley, Will Genia, Kyle Godwin, Dane Haylett-Petty, Reece Hodge, Karmichael Hunt, Samu Kerevi, Marika Koroibete, Tevita Kuridrani, Eto Nabuli, Sefa Naivalu, Nick Phipps, Joe Powell, Henry Speight.