Last night Michael Cheika unveiled the Wallabies squad that will take on Ireland in this years June test series. The side has been picked with one eye on next year’s world cup, leaving out players who will be unavailable next year. It is also the most experienced mid-year team Cheika has used, with only five players named who have not played a test match yet (and two of these are at hooker, where there is only one capped player left in the country).
Hookers: Folau Fainga’a, Brandon Paenga-Amosa, Jordan Uelese
Props: Sekope Kepu, Tom Robertson, Scott Sio, Taniela Tupou, Allan Alaalatoa
Locks: Izack Rodda, Adam Coleman, Rob Simmons, Rory Arnold
Backrowers: Michael Hooper (c), David Pocock, Caleb Timu, Lukhan Tui, Ned Hanigan
Halfbacks: Will Genia, Nick Phipps, Joe Powell
Five-eighths: Bernard Foley
Centres: Kurtley Beale, Samu Kerevi, Tevita Kuridrani, Curtis Rona
Outside backs: Israel Folau, Tom Banks, Dane Haylett-Petty, Reece Hodge, Jack Maddocks, Marika Koroibete, Sefa Naivalu
The clear weakness in the squad is the lack of cover at five-eighth for Bernard Foley, with Kurtley Beale likely to be called on in the event of an injury. Will Genia at halfback is also very difficult to replace. Additionally, the hooking options only have two test caps between them (both for Jordan Uelese).
This Wallabies squad will probably contain the core of next year’s World Cup team. It is also probably the strongest that Cheika could have picked, with form in this year’s Super Rugby competition being rewarded.
Apart from the enforced draft of rookies at hooker, the only debutants in this squad have been in scintillating form so far this year. Jack Maddocks, Tom Banks and Caleb Timu have been among the best for their franchises this year, and will be valuable assets heading into a World Cup year. All five uncapped players are under 25, and will be in the mix for years to come.