Despite calling upon 10 uncapped players in the 39-man preliminary squad, head coach Micheal Cheika has assured that no free caps will be handed out ahead of Australia’s three match test series against England next month.
One such uncapped player is Queensland Reds full-back Karmicheal Hunt whose impressive form has seen the ‘Master of Ninjas’ Ayumu Goromaru feature on the bench for the majority of this season’s Super Rugby. Hunt was last year banned for six weeks and fined after pleading guilty for possession of cocaine.
Cheika has called upon four international based players with former captain James Horwill returning to the squad after a shock omission from the Wallabies World Cup squad. Horwill has been in fine form for Harlequins this season and has maintained his desire to represent Australia again.
“When he didn’t get chosen he took it like a man,” Cheika said. “He didn’t moan or whinge or cry; he understood the reasons and I think that he can do a job for us in this series and that’s why I brought him back. I think he’s had a good, solid season under his belt over there.” (smh.com.au)
Horwill is one of four overseas players that has been included into the squad with Bath No.8 Leroy Houston and Glasgow winger Taqele Naiyaravoro, who are both set to return to Australia, as well as Bordeaux prop Sekope Kepu.
Australia are without the substantial combined experience of Adam Ashley-Cooper, Matt Giteau and Drew Mitchell (286 caps between them) who are all either unavailable or injured but are expected to be back in the frame for Australia’s Rugby Championship defence once rested after a long European season.
Wasps bound Kurtley Beale was not considered for selection due to a knee injury sustained when playing for the Waratahs which is expected to see him sidelined for up to 6 months.
Cheika had no hesitation in selecting powerful back-rower Liam Gill who will be departing for Europe come the end of the season:
“It gives me a week with him non-stop to talk him out of it. We’ll be locked in the same hotel for a week,” said Cheika with a smile. “I’d be naive not to choose guys who are going overseas because we can pick players who are overseas. I’m not looking to play any mind games there.”
Eddie Jones however has been throwing down the gauntlet in terms of engaging in mind games making bold predictions regarding the outcome of the test series. However, a calm an collective Chieka has shown little to no interest in contesting in a verbal confrontation:
“He’s obviously very happy with the team he’s got,” Cheika said. “By saying that he believes that he will come down here and win 3-0, that’s his way of motivating his troops.”
See below a full list of the Australian preliminary squad to take on England next month:
Israel Folau, Bernard Foley, Nick Frisby, Mike Harris, Dane Haylett-Petty, Rob Horne, Karmichael Hunt, Samu Kerevi, Tevita Kuridrani, Christian Lealiifano, Luke Morahan, Eto Nabuli, Taqele Naiyaravoro, Nick Phipps, Joe Powell
Allan Alaalatoa, Rory Arnold, Sam Carter, Adam Coleman, Scott Fardy, Liam Gill, James Hanson, Greg Holmes, Michael Hooper, James Horwill, Leroy Houston, Sekope Kepu, Ben McCalman, Sean McMahon, Stephen Moore, Dean Mumm, Wycliff Palu, David Pocock, Tatafu Polota-Nau, Rob Simmons, Scott Sio, Will Skelton, James Slipper, Toby Smith
Heineken Rugby Club celebrates and rewards real supporters who make the game what it is.