MATT GITEAU AND Drew Mitchell were named in an extended Wallabies squad with James O’Connor and Benn Robinson the major omissions on Thursday.
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The Toulon duo were included as a result of a relaxation of eligibility rules announced by the Australian Rugby Union in April to allow senior players at overseas clubs to play for the Wallabies.
Coach Michael Cheika named fly-half Giteau and winger Mitchell in the 40-man squad ahead of The Rugby Championship opener against South Africa in Brisbane on 18 July.
O’Connor, Queensland Reds teammate Karmichael Hunt and experienced Wallaby props Robinson and Ben Alexander were left out, putting in jeopardy their chances of playing in this year’s World Cup in England and Wales.
A further notable omission is Nick ‘The Honey Badger’ Cummins, the Force wing having failed to hit his very best form since returning from a stint in Japan. The 27-year-old is a hugely popular figure thanks to his larger-than-life personality, but there is no space for him in this 40-man group.
“We’re fortunate enough to see some experience enter the squad from both Super Rugby and overseas,” Cheika said.
“We will look to shave down the squad closer to Test week when we arrive in Brisbane to take on the Springboks.”
Uncapped Wallabies Toby Smith, Taqele Naiyaravoro, Rory Arnold and Samu Kerevi are the latest additions, following a two-week programme with a preliminary train-on squad in Brisbane.
There’s no space for the Honey Badger. Source: Morgan Treacy/INPHO
Waratahs and Exeter lock Dean Mumm also returns to the frame for the first time since 2012 along with Queensland Reds prop Greg Holmes.
The 13-Test veteran has impressed throughout the 2015 Super Rugby season with fellow Reds front rowers James Hanson and James Slipper joining him in the squad.
Scott Higginbotham and Sam Carter return after missing last year’s end-of-season tour to Europe with injuries.
Waratahs skipper David Dennis also gets an opportunity to press for Wallaby honours for the first time since November 2013, after being ruled out of last year’s international season with a knee injury.
Rory Arnold (Brumbies), Adam Ashley-Cooper (Waratahs), Kurtley Beale (Waratahs), Quade Cooper (Reds), Dave Dennis (Waratahs), James Hanson (Reds), Scott Fardy (Brumbies), Tetera Faulkner (Force), Israel Folau (Waratahs), Bernard Foley (Waratahs), Will Genia (Reds), Matt Giteau (Toulon), Scott Higginbotham (Rebels), Greg Holmes (Reds), Michael Hooper (Waratahs), Rob Horne (Waratahs), James Horwill (Reds), Samu Kerevi (Reds), Sekope Kepu (Waratahs), Tevita Kuridrani (Brumbies), Christian Lealiifano (Brumbies), Stephen Moore (Brumbies), Drew Mitchell (Toulon), Wyclif Palu (Waratahs), Ben McCalman (Force), Sean McMahon (Rebels), Dean Mumm (Waratahs), Taqele Naiyaravoro (Waratahs), Nick Phipps (Waratahs), David Pocock (Brumbies), Tatafu Polota-Nau (Waratahs), Scott Sio (Brumbies), Rob Simmons (Reds), Will Skelton (Waratahs), James Slipper (Reds), Toby Smith (Rebels), Henry Speight (Brumbies), Matt Toomua (Brumbies), Joe Tomane (Brumbies), Nic White (Brumbies).
– (c) AFP, 2015 with additional reporting by The42. Piece updated at 12.23 to include mention of the omission of Nick Cummins.
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