Michael Cheika has announced an extended 39-man Wallabies squad for the upcoming June International Series. Australia will face a three Test home series against a familiar foe on many fronts, England. With ten uncapped players named Cheika is looking to the future and not just the immienent arrival of the current Six Nations Grand Slam Champions.
Wallabies Squad to Face England
Karmichael Hunt will be given his first chance to pull on a Wallabies test jersey after impressing in a struggling Reds backline. The perennial ‘code swapper’ if given his chance will become an international in his second code after stints with League and AFL. Adam Coleman is rewarded after a strong start to the season in the Western Force’s second row, with the Tasmanian player impressing many with his work rate up front. A fellow Force player has been selected in Dane Haylett-Petty who has also shown real quality despite his teams struggles. The remaining uncapped players are Nick Frisby, Eto Nabuli, Leroy Houston and Samu Kerevi from the Reds with, Joe Powell, Allan Alaalatoa and Rory Arnold from the Brumbies.
From Europe With Love
Not only has Cheika sprung a few new surprises within this Wallabies squad but he has pulled a few names out of the past and from across the world. Former captain, James Horwill, now playing his trade with Harlequins in the UK, has been rewarded for his dominating performances in the Aviva Premiership. His inclusion will go a long way in terms of leadership on and off the field in what will no doubt be a fiery test encounter despite him being surplus to the requirements for last years Rugby World Cup. Sekope Kepu, Leroy Houston and Taqele Naiyaravoro will join Horwill for the long haul flight home with the two later moving back to Australia to spearhead their rugby ambitions. Houston will leave Bath for Brisbane and the Reds whilst Naiyaravoro will swap the Warriors of Glasgow for the Waratahs.
Super Rugby Woes
All five of the Australian franchises have underperformed throughout the Super Rugby competition and it will be hoped that the stars of Australian rugby will find their form in the June Series. Many of the ‘big names’ have been included despite struggling for form including a number of under fire Waratahs like Michael Hooper and Israel Folau. The quality that these two players in particular have means that if they are able to recapture their form then England had best beware. With one Round of Super Rugby remaining before the Test Series, Cheika will be keeping his fingers crossed that none of the 39 pick up any injuries.
Nic Stirzaker of the Melbourne Rebels can feel very much aggrieved at his omission from the wider squad. The inclusion of Brumbies third choice scrum half Joe Powell over him has got to the hurt. An injury early in the season has lessened his impact on the Rebels who themselves have dropped off in performances in recent weeks but surely Stirzaker is worthy of a place in the Wallabies squad. Whilst his inclusion in a match day 23 is highly unlikely he should be training with the squad with an eye to the future.
This historic three Test Series between the Wallabies and England will provide many moments of great rugby as Australia looks to replicate the result the last time the two sides met. Since that fateful day at Twickenham during the Rugby World Cup, upon which Bernard Foley stole the show, England have looked to rebuild. This time with an Aussie at the helm, Eddie Jones will be casting his eye over this Wallabies squad announcement and plotting its downfall.
The quality is there to be seen but can the form be found on the field.
Wallabies 39-man training squad for the 2016 England Series:
Alan Ala’alatoa (Brumbies)
Rory Arnold (Brumbies)
Sam Carter (Brumbies)
Adam Coleman (Western Force)
Scott Fardy (Brumbies)
Israel Folau (NSW Waratahs)
Bernard Foley (NSW Waratahs)
Nick Frisby (Queensland Reds)
Liam Gill (Queensland Reds)
James Hanson (Melbourne Rebels)
Mike Harris (Melbourne Rebels)
Dane Haylett-Petty (Western Force)
Greg Holmes (Queensland Reds)
Michael Hooper (NSW Waratahs)
Rob Horne (NSW Waratahs)
James Horwill (Harlequins)
Leroy Houston (Queensland Reds)
Karmichael Hunt (Queensland Reds)
Sekope Kepu (Bordeaux)
Samu Kerevi (Queensland Reds)
Tevita Kuridrani (Brumbies)
Christian Leali’ifano (Brumbies)
Ben McCalman (Western Force)
Sean McMahon (Melbourne Rebels)
Stephen Moore (c) (Brumbies)
Luke Morahan (Western Force)
Dean Mumm (NSW Waratahs)
Eto Nabuli (Queensland Reds)
Taqele Naiyaravoro (NSW Waratahs)
Wycliff Palu (NSW Waratahs)
Nick Phipps (NSW Waratahs)
David Pocock (Brumbies)
Tatafu Polota-Nau (NSW Waratahs)
Joe Powell (Brumbies)
Rob Simmons (Queensland Reds)
Scott Sio (Brumbies)
Will Skelton (NSW Waratahs)
James Slipper (Queensland Reds)
Toby Smith (Melbourne Rebels)
The Wallabies kick off their 2016 International season on June 11th, against England at Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane.