There are a number of high-profile omissions in Michael Cheika’s 34-man Wallabies squad for their Rugby Championship opener with South Africa on Saturday, July 20.
The 34-man squad will travel to South Africa on Sunday to get in two weeks of training so to best prepare themselves for the conditions at altitude.
Some of the big names left out include Quade Cooper, Nick Phipps and Ned Hanigan. It is interesting that Phipps and Hanigan have both been left out considering they have been used heavily by Cheika in the past.
This is likely explained by the new three-man selection panel which consists of Cheika, director of rugby Scott Johnson and former Wallaby and Australian Sevens coach Michael O’Connor.
“We tried to look at Super Rugby form, what players can bring and what they’ve done before,” Cheika told rugby.com.au.
“It’s a bit of a mix and I suppose that comes in with the form of the Super Rugby teams this year and then what we’ve seen from the players that have been in camp this week as well.
“Only 31 are going (to the World Cup) and there’s a few to come back.
“I’m not expecting anything right now, I’m thinking of next week and leading into South Africa.
“I know that’s a bit cliched but one thing I think is going to be big this year is building momentum.
“It’s no secret we’re coming from way back and to come from way back you’ve got to build momentum and belief in yourself on the way, it’s really important.
“(The final World Cup squad) will work itself out, they’ll pick themselves by the way they play and perform and their dynamic inside the team.
“We’ve just got to help them get the good performances under their belt.”
A number of players nursing injuries have also been left out and these include David Pocock (calf), Adam Coleman (shoulder), Jordan Petaia (foot) and Tatafu Polota-Nau (ankle).
James O’Connor, who recently left Sale Sharks and returned to Australia, has also been left out but Cheika didn’t rule out other players being called up as the competition continues.
Some of the big inclusions include Christian Lealiifano who returns to an Australia squad for the first time in three years. The out-half successfully recovered from leukaemia which ruled him out of action for a year.
James Slipper also makes a return to the Wallabies squad and there are three potential debutants on the cards in the shape of number eight Isi Naisarani and back-rowers Liam Wright and Rob Valetini.
34-man Wallabies Squad
Allan Alaalatoa (32 Tests, Brumbies, 25)
Rory Arnold (19 Tests , Brumbies, 29)
Jack Dempsey (10 Tests, NSW Waratahs, 25)
Folau Fainga’a (7 Tests, Brumbies, 24)
Michael Hooper (c) (91 Tests, NSW Waratahs, 27)
Luke Jones (3 Tests, Melbourne Rebels, 28)
Sekope Kepu (103 Tests, NSW Waratahs, 33)
Tolu Latu (12 Tests, NSW Waratahs, 26)
Isi Naisarani (uncapped, Melbourne Rebels, 24)
Tom Robertson (24 Tests, NSW Waratahs, 24)
Izack Rodda (17 Tests, Queensland Reds, 22)
Rob Simmons (94 Tests, NSW Waratahs, 30)
Lukhan Salakaia-Loto (11, Queensland Reds, 22)
Scott Sio (55 Tests, Brumbies, 27)
James Slipper (86 Tests, Brumbies, 30)
Taniela Tupou (11 Tests, Queensland Reds, 23)
Jordan Uelese (2 Tests, Melbourne Rebels, 22)
Rob Valetini (uncapped, Brumbies, 20)
Liam Wright (uncapped, Queensland Reds, 21)
Adam Ashley-Cooper (117 Tests, NSW Waratahs, 35)
Tom Banks (3 Tests, Brumbies, 25)
Kurtley Beale (83 Tests, NSW Waratahs, 30)
Bernard Foley (68 Tests, NSW Waratahs, 29)
Will Genia (100 Tests, Melbourne Rebels, 31)
Dane Haylett-Petty (31 Tests, Melbourne Rebels, 30)
Reece Hodge (33 Tests, Melbourne Rebels, 24)
Samu Kerevi (25 Tests, Queensland Reds, 25)
Marika Koroibete (20 Tests, Melbourne Rebels, 26)
Tevita Kuridrani (58 Tests, Brumbies, 28)
Christian Lealiifano (19 Tests, Brumbies, 31)
Jack Maddocks (7 Tests, Melbourne Rebels, 22)
Joe Powell (4 Tests, Brumbies, 25)
Matt To’omua (42 Tests, Melbourne Rebels, 29)
Nic White (22 Tests, Exeter Chiefs, 29)