Wallabies name eight uncapped players
August 9, 2013
The Wallabies have injected some fresh blood into their latest squad
Wallabies coach Ewen McKenzie has named eight uncapped players in his 30-man squad to face New Zealand, South Africa and Argentina in The Rugby Championship.
Fly-halves Matt Toomua and Bernard Foley, back-rowers Scott Fardy and Jake Schatz, prop Scott Sio, hooker Albert Anae, centre Tevita Kuridrani and scrum-half Nic White are each in line to debut in the Test arena having impressed McKenzie during the week-long training camp in Sydney.
"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.
Benn Robinson was the most surprising omission from the squad, cut with Peter Betham, Dave Dennis, Chris Feauai-Sautia, Mike Harris, Nick Phipps, Hugh Pyle and Paddy Ryan from the initial 40-man camp alongside injured Anthony Fainga'a, Tatafu Polota-Nau and Peter Kimlin.
Robinson, one of the Australia's most-capped front-rowers, having played 59 Tests, started all three Tests against the British & Irish Lions, but McKenzie preferred youngsters Scott Sio and James Slipper. Dennis and Nick Phipps, too, were dropped from the squad having been in Robbie Deans' 31-man selection to face the Lions.
"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 Australian rugby right now," McKenzie said.
"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 575 Test appearances, and includes players from all five of Australia's Super Rugby provinces. It also has an average age of just under 25, with hooker Stephen Moore the only representative aged 30 years or older.
"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," McKenzie said of the coming Bledisloe Cup Test that opens The Rugby Championship.
"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."
McKenzie said of the decision to retain both Toomua and Foley in the squad, as well as expected first-choice fly-half Quade Cooper, that he wanted to keep the All Blacks guessing. "We don't need to make a decision publicly about the playmaking role until one hour before the game," he said.
© ESPN Australia / New Zealand
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